*This story was featured in the June 27 edition of the Hastings Tribune.
More than 20 current and former Hastings College students spent Saturday participating in live, on-air broadcasts and radio shows one final time before “KFKX 90.1 the X” goes off the air Thursday after 18 years.
The event was planned in order to allow former KFKX on-air talent to recall memories of their time with the radio station, and to hop on the airways one last time at the C.J. and Marie Gray Center for the Communications Arts on the Hastings College campus.
“Today is something that I’m glad is happening. It’s a sendoff for KFKX and it’s a celebration to what KFKX was for so many people,” said Russell Heitmann, a current Hastings College student.
In 1988 when President Ronald Reagan spoke at the college he introduced the on-campus radio station, which became a facet of the college’s journalism and broadcasting programs throughout the years. The first on-air content came on Sept. 6, 1988, when Reagan famously said “KFKX is on the air.”
Over the years, KFKX has evolved from not only a community and campus radio station, but as a medium for students to broadcast athletic events, provide news updates, host live radio shows and stream music.
It even became an integral part of the journalism curriculum in the form of the audio fundamentals class taught by KFKX General Manager Sharon Brooks.
For alums, current students and even Brooks, the radio station became a form of service to not only the campus, but also to the community.
“It was a chance to have good ideas, make mistakes, experiment and learn about growing out of yourself,” Brooks said. “It’s the ultimate service learning, because that’s what the First Amendment is all about, which is serving those who want to know what’s happening in their culture and government with their leaders.”
The reunion activities Saturday included live radio shows, musical selections from those in the Gray Center and featured recorded content from previous years during the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. time slot.
The group was on the air throughout the day and the reunion concluded with a dinner at the Hastings College Barrett Alumni Center. Those attending the reunion also were allowed an opportunity to listen to old shows, either on cassette tapes or CDs, and purchase shirts for the event.
The reunion gave students — past and present — the chance to come together and share the KFKX experience one last time.
“Today is about coming together as a KFKX family,” said Dan Peters, a Hastings College graduate. “We have students here, we have employees and we have alums and we just are sharing that common connection we have working for this crazy radio station and sharing those experiences with one another.”
Although the radio station is going dark, students still will have the opportunity to produce content and broadcast sporting events via a live stream beginning with the fall semester.
KFKX, above anything else, is being remembered as an inclusive place that connected both campus and community members through sound.
“Over the years, it’s been an opportunity for students to participate in something they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” Peters said. “One of the cool parts about the history of KFKX is who has been a part of this station. It hasn’t just been media people — it wasn’t just broadcasters. It has been history majors, social science majors, biology majors and just people who liked music and wanted to be a part of that.”